Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Here's to the NEW YEAR...
May it bring you more joy and success,
And less grief and regret.

To our dreams...
May we never stop believing in them
And taking the actions that will make them a reality.

To our friends and loved ones...
May we take the time to let them know
How much it means to us,
To have them in our lives.

To new beginnings...
Let us start fresh, right now,
To make this year the very best.

In 2011, my hope is we can encourage more and criticize less, give more and need less. A very happy, healthy and safe New Year from me to you! xo

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Slurge vs. Steal: Fake Eyelashes

If you're thinking of glammin' up your make-up for NYE, you can't go wrong with flirty, luscious fake lashes. They are the perfect special occasion accessory and they are now easier than ever to apply and remove. What I love about lashes is that even if you can't decide what you are going to wear - slap on some fake lashes and let your eyes do the talking. At that rate, no one will even notice if your socks match.

For the few hours that you're actually going to be wearing them, there is no need to splurge on a fake pair from MAC at Nordstrom priced at $14.00 (Glue sold separately for $8.00) when you can pick up a pair of Sonia Kashuk's Full Glam Eyelashes for $4.99 (Glue included) at Target. Hellooooo frugal find!!!

Tips & tricks to applying:

1: Before applying lash adhesive, make sure the length of the lash band will fit your eyes so that your false lashes will be comfortable. You don't want your lashes to start too close to your tear duct (inner), or go beyond your natural lash line. You may have to snip a small section off if your eyes are smaller.

2: Apply eyeshadow and mascara first. This way your lashes will be the same color as the fake fair and blend in better.

3: Apply a thin line of glue/adhesive to the lash band. It usually comes in white, which dries clear, and also a dark tone, which dries black. I highly recommend the white/clear for beginners.

4: Allow the adhesive to dry for about 30 seconds. This allows it to become slightly tacky and easy to apply.

5: Get close to the mirror and apply the fake lashes onto the eyelid as close to the lash line as possible. Keep eyes relaxed and adhesive will dry in no time.

Now it's time to strut your stuff!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Party Time: Shrimp Sensation

Asked to bring an appetizer to a New Year's Eve par-tay? If so, stop rummaging through your cookbooks or and give this sensational shrimp recipe a try. I can not for the life of me remember where I got this recipe but I changed it so much I might as well give myself the credit. I personally am a big fan of bringing shrimp to a party. Along with about three other people usually. Luckily everyone loves shrimp and it never goes to waste. This recipe however is an unexpected twist on the boring ol' shrimp and cocktail sauce. Every single time I've made this concoction, you hear a low moan of "mmmmm's" across the room.

The original recipe called for a million ingredients and far too much prep work - slicing and dicing is not my thing. So instead I hit up Costco and did a little improvising. I bought the 3 lb. tub of Rojo's All Natural Pico de Gallo and saved myself about 45 minutes. Unfortunately I don't have the original recipe so I can't tell you exact measurements if you opt to make the Pico from scratch. If you decide to put yourself through such a daunting task, make sure the Pico is super chunky with added cilantro. Unfortunately I've never tried it with homemade Pico so I can't stand behind the end taste if you do go that route.

Shrimp Salsa Dip

Costco's 3 lb tub of Rojo's All Natural Pico de Gallo
1 can of frozen Limeade Concentrate
75-85 Shrimp - any size

Cut off shrimp tails
Dump the entire tub of Pico in a large bowl.
Mix 1/2 of the can of Limeade into the Pico.
Add the shrimp and stir together.
Let marinate in the refrigerator for 30+ minutes. It can be served on the spot but it's more flavorful if you give the juices time to soak inot the shrimp.
The zesty combination of the citrus with the saltiness of the salsa is indescribable. It's very light and not hot or spicy. I usually serve with slices of soft French Bread. I'll buy the long loaf and display the thinly sliced pieces around the base of the salsa bowl for a nice presentation. Guests will then spoon the shrimp salsa onto the bread - almost like a bruschetta. It can also be served with tortilla chips or on top of a toasted baquette.

If you wanted to serve this as a meal, you could easily scoop onto a tortilla with a dollop of sour cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. ENJOY!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fashion Police: New Year's Eve Outfit Ideas

Thanksgiving and Christmas bring about food, family and excitement but New Year's Eve brings out the best dressed and well planned parties of the year. It's not the time for ordinary pieces. Wondering what the latest trends are for NYE 2011? Think short dresses, metallic, ruffles, shine, pizazz. Anything sparkle goes. Within reason. Last thing you want is to look "be-dazzled."

Although it's not nearly as exciting as buying a new outfit and sometimes a painful process, I am all about trying to piece together things I already have in my closet. In case you're stumped on what to wear, here are a few outfit ideas that are probably in your closet waiting for some love:

Black leggings or a short black skirt
Sequin top
Black cardigan or wrap
Glitter clutch (purse)
Large flower ring
Earrings that go "bling"
Ankle boot or something unexpected

Outfit 2 -- GIRLY GLAM
Tutu inspired dress
Wide belt
Classic black heel or a pair of flirty flats
Cheetah cardigan or some eye-catching layer with beads around the collar
Metallic purse

Outfit 3 -- CASUAL CHIC
Skinny jeans
Trendy shirt with metallic print or tank with ruffles
Knee high boots
Bright colored handbag
Hoop earrings
Chunky bracelet

If you do opt to go with the traditioin little black dress, add a little sparkle with eye-catching jewelry and a pop of color with a fun stiletto. And make sure your handbag is treated as part of the overall fashion look. It doesn't have to match the shoes or other accessories but it should blend well with the color scheme.
Hope these outfit ideas get your juices flowing! Even if you are just going to a friend's house for a casual get-together, I encourage you to glam it up just a bit. If anything, it's a fun excuse.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dress to impress: New Years Eve tips

Now that Christmas is over, it's time to start wiggin' out (if you haven't already) on what to wear to the upcoming New Year's Eve partyyyyy! And don't act like you aren't. Who doesn't?? I am guilty of it every year. It's just one of those days that warrants a grand entrance.

Before you head out on a rampage, here are a few tips to consider ahead of time:
  1. Figure out the dress code for the event you'll be attending. Is it a formal party? Semiformal? Casual?
  2. Check the weather & ask the host if the party will be indoors or out. That scoop back dress might be hot but there's nothing worse than possible hypothermia.
  3. Keep in mind that wherever you're going, there will always be other guests who are more and less dressy than you. Your goal - don't be the most undressed.
  4. Avoid wearing brand-new, never been worn shoes. Considering that New Year's Eve is a time to start anew, you don't want to start it by being miserable and in pain because of sore feet.
  5. Look in the depths of your closet before hitting the malls. You may just have forgotten about that little black dress (that you wore 3 years ago that NO ONE will remember) that will look fantastic with that new necklace you got for Christmas.
  6. If you must hit up the mall, browse through a Celebrity Magazine (ie: US Weekly) to see what chic styles are hot right now.
  7. Know YOUR body type. Just because something looks good on Jessica Alba, you need to consider your figure and how to accentuate your assets.

Unsure as to what attire is actually acceptable? Here is the Dress Code Decoded so you aren't playing the guessing game;

Formal/Black Tie: Speaks for itself. Usually black tie for men and long cocktail dresses or dressy evening separates for women. In trendier cities like LA & NY, men can get away with wearing a black button-down shirt, no tie, with a tux.

Semi-Formal (or after 5:00): Tuxes are not required, nor are long dresses. Appropriate for him is a dark suit and a cocktail dress for her.

Cocktail attire: Dark suit, usually no tie, for him and short elegant (with a splash of sexy) dresses for her.

Dressy casual: For him, trousers and a sport coat and for her, a dressy pant look - ie; black leggings with a sexy tank. In the past jeans have not been acceptable for "dressy casual" but if you have a trendy pair of designer jeans, I say wear them!

Casual: Anything goes. Come comfortable.

Informal: Often interpreted as casual but it actually calls for more semi-formal attire; dark suits for him, short dresses for her.

Festive attire: Popular around the holidays with the mood of the party being either Informal or Semi-formal. For her, choose a look with a bit of sparkle or holiday pop (beaded sweater, fur vest, red silk blouse). For him, most anything goes.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry CHRISTmas

Faith makes all things possible,
Hope makes all things work,
Love makes all things beautiful,
May the miracle of Christmas bless you with all three on this wondrous day.

From our house to yours -
Have a very merry and blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last minute gift idea

Need a last minute gift idea for either a man or a woman that won't have you searching high and low? If so, bee-line to your nearest Nordstrom, Macys or even Target and pick up Dolce & Gabbana's LIGHT BLUE perfume/cologne.

This is a scent I've been wearing for years and it never fails me. It smells delicious. I get compliments left and right and eight times out of ten I'll get asked what perfume I am wearing. It's very light and crisp and stays on all day long. It's floral/fruity smell is one that can be worn both day and night. The men's "Light Blue Pour Homme" is equally as yummy. My husband wears it and you better believe, he has to 'fend me off. :)

Usually going with the Gift Set is the best deal but you can pick up the Women's Eau De Toilette Spray for $62-85 for a 1.7 or 3.4 oz. bottle or the Men's Pour Homme for $57-73 for the 2.5 or 4.2 oz. bottle.

So if you've been procrastinating, luckily with this gift you still have time. Most malls are open until 10:00 PM on the 23rd but will close early (usually around 5:00) on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Super simple meal on a crazy busy week

This is a crowd pleaser any time of the year but I thought since it was red and festive, it would be the perfect time to share - especially since this week is so hectic that you need an easy meal to slap down on the table.


4-6 boneless chicken breasts
8 oz. Catalina Dressing (I use Kraft's Fat Free Catalina)
1 package of Lipton's Dry Onion Soup Mix
1 - 1 lb. can of Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix dressing, soup mix and cranberry sauce in a bowl.
Trim chicken of any fat and place in a 13x9 inch baking dish.
Top the chicken with cranberry mixture.
Bake in oven for 45-60 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts.

My family loves this meal served over rice with a side of broccoli. This meal tastes great as left-overs and freezes well.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Traditions

I don't know why I didn't blog about this sooner but I guess it's better late than never. I've been in several conversations lately with other moms asking about fun family traditions they could start. My family definitely has some traditions that have been around for years that I thought I would share with you in case you are looking to incorporate some new in with your old.

1) Advent Calendars: Sorry this one you'll have to add to the list for next year. Ours were never fancy. In fact they were the cheap boxes of chocolate. You start on December 1st and open a new flap each day until Christmas. This year Chase and I would say something we were thankful for before we opened a new chocolate flap. If you're like many of my talented girlfriends, you could get crafty and make your own or head over to Pottery Barn and pick up this awesome burlap sack calendar. You can fill each day's sack with a new surprise - one day could be a treat for the kids; the next day could be a bible verse; the next could be a craft project; the next could be to bake and deliver cookies to the neighbors. It's a fun way to get creative and have fun each day of the month.

2) Decorate Gingerbread houses: This is a fun tradition to start with close friends. It's even more fun if you make it into a friendly competition. Sadly, my husband always wins. Costco and Trader Joes usually always have some easy to assemble kits with all the fixings.
3) Drive around looking at lights: It's fun to get in your pajamas, stop off at Starbucks for a "holiday drink" and drive around looking at crazy Christmas light displays in different neighborhoods.
4) Pictures with Santa: When we were younger we'd stand in the long line at Nordstrom waiting for a very professional shot with Santa in our matching Christmas outfits. Where we live now, we bundle up and ride the Santa Train that brings you to Santa's freezing outdoor studio.
5) Game night on Christmas Eve: After church we head over to my aunts for dinner and games. Bingo is always a crowd favorite but every year she gets creative with new games. Our family's favorite - indoor putt-putt and the Reindeer Race.
6) Christmas Pajamas: When we come home from playing games, we all line up on the couch and my mom hands out Christmas pj's that are to be worn that night. Following the modeling show, we pop in a Christmas movie until we can't keep our eyes open.
7) No presents under the tree until Christmas morning: During the entire month of December there are no presents allowed under the tree. My mom will wait until everyone goes to bed on Christmas Eve and she'll bring out all the presents that she's had stored who knows where. I loved this tradition growing up because it made running into the living room on Christmas morning SO exciting!
8) Special Christmas morning breakfast: After opening all the presents, we sit around and stuff our faces with Panacacas, a German version of a Swedish pancake. A very nutritional breakfast with only butter and sugar sprinkled on top. I am proud to admit that I hold the record of 19 Panacacas - the most ever eaten in my family. :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Can you afford a furry friend?

Is your significant other or child begging for a pet this Christmas? Are you torn on what to do? You've got a few days left before Christmas to decide what you should do. Of course you want to surprise them and make their wishes come true but the question is - can you afford one?

The amount of money we spend on our pets has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, rising to more than $38 billion, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. That figure dwarfs the toy business ($23 billion) and candy industry ($24 billion). It’s not just the purchase price of a pet that costs money; it’s the feeding, grooming, vet bills, and boarding that can really add up to a lot. Before you bring that lovable critter home for the holidays, there are a few things you should consider. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with something you realistically can't afford. The following is a list of expected annual costs for your new member of the family thanks to the non-profit adoption organization, Pawprints and Purrs, Inc.

Small Dogs: They may be pocket sized and lovable but they're no small cost. While crate costs and spay/neuter fees are lessened, a smaller dog, like a Yorkshire Terrier and Pugs, can still cost nearly $800 annually.

Medium Dogs: Coming in a close second, medium-sized dogs, like Beagles and Cocker Spaniels, are nearly the most costly pets, fetching up to $1,115 annually.

Large Dogs: Big dogs like Golden Retrievers, Labrabors, and Dalmatians may have a special place in your heart but get ready to make room for them in your wallet. Obvious expenses like food and crates for large dogs are high and first year total expenses can reach $1,500.

Cats: Cats can provide warmth and companionship with considerably fewer demands than their canine counterparts. However, every furball comes with a price tag. Total first year costs for a cat can reach upwards of $640.

Rabbits: Rabbits may require even less attention than felines but costs for a floppy eared friend can exceed $800 for the first year. Where a Rabbit may not require walking, litter costs for your pet can more than double that of cats reaching a total of $885.

Guinea Pigs: Though many vets do NOT spay/neuter Guinea Pigs, the procedure is highly recommended for the many health benefits of spaying/neutering. The litter costs for these Guinea Pigs are as high as for that of a rabbit. Costs for a Guinea Pig can exceed $745 in the first year.

Gerbils and Hamsters: Though many vets do NOT spay/neuter Gerbils and Hamsters, the procedure is highly recommended for the many health benefits of spaying/neutering. Gerbils and Hamsters qualify as small mammals and incur the least in costs for quadrapeds. There are other costs to consider, such as cages and litter, which can bring the tab up to $500 in the first year.

Birds: Small birds such as Parakeets or the cheapest pets to keep but that doesn't mean free. One must provide toys and treats and a cage for their feathered friends. That can cost up to $255 in the first year.

Fish: Fish have their own costs and concerns. Tanks, trinkets and playgrounds for your fish can raise costs up to $185.

Obviously, smaller is cheaper. The difference between a large dog and a small one is $720 per year - and that's a lot of kibble. Now, let's just look at the dogs and cats. Let's say each of these pets lives 15 years. Here's the lifetime costs:

Cat - $9,600
Small dog - $11,700
Medium dog - $16,725
Large dog - $22,500

Promise me this - if you do get a pet, don't complain that you can't afford college for your kid! You know your budget. And you know your tolerance. Sure they are cute and cuddly but besides the cost, they are a lot of work. Best of luck in making your decision.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why didn't I think of that?

Here's a last minute must-buy if you are traveling this holiday season with small children. Or are stumped on what to get your world traveling relatives. The Gogo Kidz Universal Car Seat Travelmate converts your car seat into a stroller. No more having to lug a bulky car seat through the airport while trying to maneuver a stroller (and the kid who keeps dropping his juice every 50 feet). Talk about GENIUS.

The Travelmate is super easy to use - it has a quick-release strap that allows the Travelmate to be attached or removed within seconds to the backside of the car seat. What's even more convenient; you can just release the handle down and strap the seatbelt around the Travelmate if you bring your car seat on the airplane. No detaching or finding a place for it in the overhead bin. Although I am not a huge fan of bringing the car seat on the plane, the FAA actually recommends that all children under 40 lbs. sit in a car seat during a flight.

The Gogo Travelmate can be attached to most convertible or forward-facing car seats. To see a list that are guaranteed to fit, click here. The product rolls smoothly both forward and backward and is sturdy enough to accommodate a child up to 50 lbs. without any noticeable decrease in performance.

Whether you travel a lot or a little, this is well worth the $80 bucks. It's a sanity-saver and pays for itself the very first trip. Consumers on Amazon also agree giving this product a 4 out of 5 stars (with 251 reviews).

If you want to give as a gift or will be taking off before Christmas? Click here to order on Amazon. You must order by 11:45 AM (PST) Friday 12/17 to have it delivered by Monday, 12/20. If you want it by Christmas Eve, choose Free Super Saver Shipping to ensure delivery. *This item can currently only be shipped by Amazon within the U.S.

DEAL ALERT: 1,500 stores offer FREE shipping TOMORROW

Do you realize there are only nine...yes 9...days left until Christmas?!?! Gulp. If you haven't finished all your shopping, NOW IS THE TIME! This Friday - as in TOMORROW 12/17 - some 1,500 stores/merchants have joined together to offer "Free Shipping Friday" - a one day, online shopping event offering free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. This deal is good for shipments made in the continental United States.

This is a no brainer for y'all that haven't finished (or even started) your shopping. How nice will it feel to go into the weekend with it all done?? Some participating merchants are Macy's, Nordstrom, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Barnes & Noble, Sephora, Apple Store, Champ Sports, Victoria's Secret - to name a few.

To learn more and see a list of the participating stores, click here. Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hailey's Holiday Obsession

Ok these are nothing new but they have become my 2010 holiday obsession -EYESHADOW PALETTES. And I'm not even a make-up junkie. Like I said in my "Banging Bargains Under $25" post, I love to pair two smaller gifts to make a cute package. These palettes make for the perfect pair to a scarf or earrings for your mom, sister, friend or babysitter. If your budget allows, you could pair the palette with an eye brush set. Oooooh now that I would love. I'm always looking for the right brush to work it's magic. :) Oh which reminds me - quick sidenote - I was talking to the cosmetic gal at the Nordstrom 'Mac' counter and she informed me that although the holiday brush sets are a screaming deal, they are made with synthetic fibers so they won't last nearly as long. Maybe a no-brainer but I found it interesting. Check out Sephora's collection of brush sets here. They have some great steals for all budgets.

Detouring back - if you're stumped on a few female holiday gifts, eyeshadow palettes are sure to please. I just so happen to read in Parents magazine that according to a Kelton Research survey, "39% of moms get a happiness boost from cosmetics." Below are a few that I personally love --

Sephora's Beauty in a Box Smoky Eye Palette is a collection of Sephora's favorite colors with a how-to guide to achieve the classic smoky eye in 6 easy steps.

Stila's Limited Edition Color Wheel Eyeshadow Palette offers a collection of versatile shades. It includes 37 eyeshadow shades, a mirror, two double-ended eyeshadow brushes, and a 16-page lookbook with tips and tricks from Stila's Pro Artists and step-by-step instructions. My mouth is watering. All this for $38 @ Sephora. Note: this palette is larger in size so it's not something you would travel with.

Kat Von D's True Romance Eyeshadow Palette comes with 8 eyeshadows to bring you an edgy glamorous look. $34 @ Sephora.
Urban Decay's Naked Palette features 12 eyeshadows that have a distinctly urban natural look, yet work for everyone. $44 @ Sephora. Note: this one is usually in high demand and sells out quickly. Comes with a travel size Eyeshadow Primer Potion.
Two Faced Natural Eye Neutral Eye Shadow Collection includes 9 essential shadows for all-over lid color, highlighting, smudging, and more. $35 @ Sephora.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Last week the topic of "holiday tipping" was suggested by a reader (Thanks Janice, I love suggestions!). My first reaction was - is holiday tipping different than everyday tipping? As I got to doing my research I quickly learned that holiday tipping is a big deal. Hmmm. Where have I been?? I personally believe you should tip because someone exceeded your expectations and provided outstanding service, no matter what time of the year.

Some believe that during the holidays you should absolutely, no question about it, tip more. I do agree that the holidays are a time to say an extra special thank you to those that worked hard for you throughout the year. Where I have a problem is when those service providers begin to expect it. Tipping should come from your heart. Something you want to do, not something you feel pressured to do. I was raised to shower the people who provide year round service with gifts - not money - during the holiday season hence my naivety on "holiday tipping." I did learn however that gifts qualify as tips although I still think of tipping as a monetary thing.

I am not going to rant and rave about why you should or shouldn't tip. It's personal. Depending on where you live, it could be culturally unacceptable. Or maybe your budget just doesn't allow. But if you do believe in giving thanks for all their hard work, whether it's in the form of money or a gift, and are wondering what is proper holiday tipping etiquette, below is a breakdown by profession according to and MSN Money Watch --

Budget: One to two nights pay.
What to Gift: You can get away with a tip, but try a gift card instead — it's like giving cash, yet it's more personal. If you know her favorite interests, you can give a movie lover a Fandango gift certificate, a music lover an iTunes card, or a college-bound sitter a certificate to Target. Still not sure? A girl of any age loves to shop at Sephora. You can also add a special homemade gift from your child, like a drawing or craft project.
Hint: You don't need to give an occasional sitter a holiday tip. But if she's really gone above and beyond the call of duty or if you use the same babysitter often during the year, you should reward her for her hard work.

FULL TIME NANNY (live-in or out)
Budget: One week to one month's pay (based on tenure) for both a personal gift and tip.
What to Gift: Buy something your nanny wouldn't get for herself like a designer handbag — it should be something that's a special indulgence.
Hint: Avoid kid-oriented presents like a new baby carrier or diaper bag. You want to reward your nanny for her hard work, not add to it!

Budget: $25-$70 for each staff member plus a small gift from your child.
What to Gift: Cash and gift cards are the best (and easiest) choices. But you should take the extra time to personalize your present with a card or a holiday token that your child picks out.
Hint: If only one person takes care of your child, you should give more generously, but if there's an entire staff of people, spread the wealth. In this case, it's okay to give less to each.

Budget: Less than $25
What to Gift: Remember that these are their jobs, not necessarily their only interests. Try something personal from your child, like a book or a drawing of the entire team.
Hint: If you're not up for giving a gift, a simple handwritten thank-you note from you and your child is a great way to show your appreciation.

Budget: $25-$100
What to Gift: A unique house plant is always welcome. But, you could also get the class to chip in for one big gift that's more personal — like a cooking class or a Kindle.
Hint: Check your school's policy because gift giving might be against the rules. Gifts are usually given when your child has one teacher all day. Don't feel obligated to buy presents for everyone.

Budget: Non-cash gifts with value up to $20 — civil servants are not allowed to receive cash tips. What to Gift: If you want to reward for delivery through snow, sleet and rain, buy a gift card for a coffee shop near your carrier's route or a cold weather accessory for those tough winter days.
Hint: An added non-cash token of your appreciation could be a glowing letter or email to a supervisor — it might even mean more than a present.

Budget: $50 or more; take into account your position in the company and how long the assistant has been with you.
What to Gift: Ask around for advice on your assistant's interests like a certificate to dine at a fine restaurant or tickets to a big event. A stylish home accent is nice too.
Hint: Avoid gifts that are too personal like clothes or perfume, and avoid anything too practical. They're practical for you all year round, this gift should give them a break!

For the people below, you can forget the pretty wrapping and bows. You can show your appreciation with cold hard cash.

Apartment Doorman
Budget: $10-$100 each
Hint: You don't have to spread the tips equally - those who serve you more should get a bigger tip.

Building Superintendent
Budget: $10-$100 each
Hint: The IRS considers tips income, but most supers don't want to declare their Christmas gifts so consider tipping in cash. You can also tip less if you tip throughout the year.

Country Club Staff
Budget: $50 for your regular servers, locker-room personnel, front-desk employees and golf professionals; $100 for head servers or special service.
Hint: Cash tips during the holidays are appropriate regardless of the club's tipping policy.

Dog Walker
Budget: One to two week's pay
Hint: A great way to show your walker that you feel her pain? Also include a gift certificate for a pedicure to cure her tired feet.

Garbage Collector
Budget: $15-$30
Hint: Pay attention to who collects your trash. If your garbage man is really a truck driver who operates a mechanical arm that does all the work, there is no need to tip.

Budget: $20-$50
Hint: If you use a service that sends a different gardener each week, don't worry about tipping.

Budget: Cost of one haircut
Hint: If the same person that cuts your hair, styles, and colors it too, you may want to give more.

Budget: Up to one week's pay
Hint: If you use a cleaning service and never know who shows up, don't tip at all. But if the same housekeeper comes every week and does a great job, tell her with a holiday tip.

Budget: Cost of one session
Hint: If the person who does your nails is the shop's owner, they might refuse your cash tip. Either way the gesture will be appreciated.

Newspaper Carrier
Budget: $10-$30
Hint: If you tip your deliverer throughout the year, give a smaller gift at the holidays. Usually they'll leave an envelope at your door. If they don't, ask the company to add a tip to your bill.

Package Delivery (UPS/FedEx)
Budget: Less than $75
Hint: Each delivery company has their own rules: FedEx doesn't allow cash or gifts worth more than $75, but UPS doesn't have a policy. Don't get them in trouble, do your homework first!

Personal Trainer
Budget: $60-$100 upon reaching goal, or cost of one session.
Hint: If you're going to add a gift to your tip, stay away from chocolates, candy or anything that's not health-conscious.

Etiquette author Peter Post of the Emily Post Institute suggests these TIPS FOR HOLIDAY TIPPING:

1) Prioritize your most important service providers. If someone's work makes your life dramatically better, that person should be at the top of your holiday tipping list. The trusted housecleaner, the hairdresser who fits you in at the last minute and the baby sitter who always does a great job tending your kids should get more of your holiday tipping resources than service providers you use infrequently.
2) Don't skimp on your employees. If you have household workers, such as a nanny, a housekeeper or a caretaker for an elderly relative, Post cautions against forgoing holiday bonuses if at all possible. The holiday bonus is often considered part of the employee's compensation. It all depends on your past practices, what's customary in your area and what you promised when you hired the person, of course, but withholding or shortchanging the bonus could be considered a cut in pay and you could wind up losing a valued worker because of it.
3) Tip strategically. If you live in a building with a doorman, superintendent or both, failing to tip can lead - unfortunately - to bad service. The higher the customary tip, the less likely a plate of cookies will cut it. Talk to your neighbors to see what the going rate is and try to come close to that figure to make sure your packages still get delivered and your friends can get into the building.
4) Consider need. The lower-paid the worker, the more holiday tips are likely to be appreciated and the bigger impact your gift can have. Your tip to a manicurist or gardener may be a bigger deal than the same sized token to a package delivery person.
5) If you tip generously all year, you can skimp a bit. A smaller tip or a modest gift at the holidays is fine.
6) A note should accompany any tip. Your message doesn't have to be elaborate, but should include a couple of sentences thanking the person for his or her good work and wishing a happy holiday.

If you want to give but are too strapped to afford it, Post recommends one of the following:

A holiday card with a handwritten note: A warm thanks is appropriate, and you can touch on why your tip is smaller or nonexistent. "You don't want them to think the lack of a tip is a reflection on their service," Post says. You can say something like - 'Thank you so much for all you've done. It's been a terribly difficult year financially but we appreciate all your hard work."

Handmade gifts or treats: A plate full of holiday cookies or candy is a low-cost way to express your appreciation. One evening of baking can produce a dozen or a dozen and a half cookies for each (recipient).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Question: To check or ship?

I received an email from a girlfriend who knows we travel a lot asking if during the holidays we ship or check our luggage? Her concern was that with all the stuff they have, they would get dinged by the airline's ridiculous baggage fees. Thanks to the massive amount of traveling my husband does for work and his MVP status, we do not incur any fees (assuming I stay under the 50 lb weight limit which isn't always easy to do) therefore we always check our luggage but in my attempt to help my friend, I set out to a little research on what makes more financial sense - to check or ship?

Ironically, as I compiled my statistics, I came across an article in Real Simple magazine that was exactly what I was looking for. Below is the article that will shed some light on what to do come packing time --

Article from "You probably assume that checking your luggage is the cheaper option, even though you’re stuck paying the airline about $25 for the first bag (each way) and $35 for the second, not to mention additional fees for heavy or large items. And sometimes it is. But not always, says Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler (Smart Travel Press, $20, So before you jet off, it’s worth doing the math. If your baggage is unusually heavy or bulky, shipping may be a better deal—provided that you don’t send your Samsonite overnight or by two-day mail, says Jami Counter, a senior director of, a travel-resource site. Case in point: UPS can ship a 75-pound box from New York City to Orlando, Florida, for $57. Checking an item that heavy would probably cost between $100 and $175 - one way. Get quotes from the two options that you have for shipping: a standard delivery or courier service, such as FedEx or DHL, or a specialty luggage handler - particularly useful for bulky items, like skis - such as Sports Express (

You should also consider shipping your baggage if you want to hit the ground running at your destination (which means skipping the luggage carousel), or if you want to be assured that those bags will be waiting for you when you arrive, says Peter Greenberg, a travel editor for CBS News. “Shipping is an especially good idea if you have a connecting flight, which increases the risk that your bags will be misplaced,” says Greenberg. And delivery services offer far more bells and whistles than air carriers, says Counter, such as superior insurance, better tracking, and, best of all, picking up your luggage at your home. No schlepping!"

Hope this helps! And with that, adios amigos. Hailey's Helpful Hints will be back next week! xo

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Things you should and shouldn't buy at COSTCO

If you're like me, you head to Costco to stock up on staples - say, paper towels and cleaning supplies - but you walk out with three halibut filets, 208 diapers, a mondo pack of fruit snacks, a 18 pack of gum and a ream of printer paper. Why? Because it's Costco. There's no way to describe what takes over you once you walk in the store.

Reality is most of us are notoriously poor at assessing a true bargain, says C.W. Park, professor of marketing at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, and editor of The Journal of Consumer Psychology. Seduced by the prospect of saving money, we give in to impulse buys. Eventually, we regret the purchase or throw much of a past-its-prime product away. It's called the Costco Effect, and it's actually part of the store's incredibly successful retail strategy. But the effect on your wallet is that you spent more than you would have if you'd never seen that "bargain."

According to CBS Money Watch, here are four products where you're better off going somewhere other than Costco. (Keep reading for another four where Costco has some surprisingly good deals.)

Things you SHOULD NOT BUY:

1. Designer Clothes: You might score the occasional pair of Seven jeans or Hurley board shorts, but designer duds aren't exactly Job 1 at Costco. Even if you do see an item from a top-tier name brand, you can't assume it's the same quality as the similar-looking product at a department store. I don't know how many times I've tried something on at Costco and I swear it's mis-marked or just fits funky. "Just because it's a national brand name, an item of clothing doesn't have to meet the standards you'll see in other stores," says Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group, a market research firm. Kathryn Finney, founder of The Budget Fashionista, says it's no secret that most name designers make cheaper lines just for warehouse clubs or outlet stores. The tip-off, says Finney, will be in the packaging and/or label on the garment. Labels on the sub-brands are just glued on, and are usually stiff and crunchy, while labels on high-end goods are softer or silky, and stitched all around.

2. Imported Shrimp: Most shrimp sold in the U.S. is imported from countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia, where environmental regulations are often lax or not enforced, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, (EDF). The EDF classifies shrimp imported from these regions as "eco-worst" for the environmentally destructive ways in which they are often farmed. Greenpeace took aim at Costco's seafood sustainability practices last June with an aggressive campaign called 'Oh No Costco.' While Costco's seafood buyer Bill Mardon says his company has entered into a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to set global standards for shrimp farming, the specific objectives are still being discussed. In the meantime, you're better off buying shrimp at Trader Joe's, which is much further along on the same path. After Greenpeace launched its Traitor Joe campaign in early 2009, Trader Joe's pledged to remove all non-sustainable seafood from its stores by the end of 2012, and it's already taken concrete steps in that direction.

3. Sheets and Towels: "Target and Wal-Mart have this market cornered and they do a great job," says Budget Fashionista's Finney. Costco, by contrast, rarely stocks more than a handful of top-selling colors in sheets and towels. If you want a wide array of colors and a selection of styles, Costco is not the place for the home.

4. 12-Pound Crates of Navel Oranges: Sure, it only costs $11.99, but it's not such a good deal if you end up throwing away half the fruit. Same goes for the package of six hearts of romaine lettuce, and the 3-pack of whipped heavy cream (240 servings) unless you're, say, hosting a sleepover for your child's entire soccer team. And their opponents. Teri Gault, founder of, which helps shoppers save on food, says that when it comes to produce, it's often more cost-effective to shop at your local supermarket and combine coupons with seasonal specials. Also avoid Costco's candy aisle - do you really need a 5 pound bucket of licorice twists? Definitely NOT with the New Year soon approaching.

Alright moving on to what you should fill that cart with. Now that frugal is fashionable, Costco seems like the perfect store for the times. The blogosphere, no surprise, offers up sites for Costco fanatics and Costco cooks. And even A-listers are getting in on the action: Jessica Alba, Megan Fox, and Zac Efron have been spotted loading up their cars with paper towels and flat-screen TVs. So should you follow the crowd? Yes, but only for certain items. If you've got the storage space, it's tough to beat Costco for staples such as paper towels, diapers, and shaving cream. But as good as the price-per-ounce may be, you just don't need that much mayonnaise. Below, we've listed four surprising items that you should pick up at the warehouse.

Things you SHOULD buy:

1. Chocolate Truffles: They're real and they're spectacular (so I've heard.) Costco sells authentic Dilettante's premier chocolate truffles - in stores now. They cost $49.99 for four boxes of varietal bliss. That's 60 mouthwatering truffles, but who's counting? Put them out at your dinner party or give them to colleagues at the office as a holiday gift.

2. Eyeglasses: Costco Optical - the only place. For $49, a licensed optician will perform a vision and eye health exam in an in-store exam room. A week later, you can pick up your specs. In a survey released by Consumer Reports, 30,000 lens-wearers chose Costco as their favorite optical retailer over vision store chains, independent optical shops, and private doctors' offices. Costco Optical earned the highest scores for overall satisfaction as well as for price, with its $157 median price for glasses. Compare that price with an average of $211 at independent optical shops, $212 at private eye doctors' offices, and $228 at Pearle Vision. Costco also stood out for lack of problems, such as loose lenses, distorted vision, or damaged frames in the first weeks after purchase.

3. Laptops: Costco's prices on notebook PCs are already a good deal, but there's a further benefit to buying one at Costco - A two year warranty policy (most manufacturers provide just one year), a 90-day return policy, and Costco Concierge Services, which is free to members and gives buyers access to technicians for set-up questions, product use, and trouble-shooting. Model numbers and configurations are often unique to Costco, but a perusal of specs will let you compare it to similar models sold elsewhere. Among current laptops on sale at Costco, PC Magazine Online gives high marks to the 14-inch HP Pavilion dm4-1173cl ($800 list price at Costco vs. $849 elsewhere for a comparable model).

4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Costco's Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil may be the best-kept secret in the store. At $9.99 for 1.5 liters, it is roughly half the cost of the well-known Bertolli brand, and yet, according to at least one independent study, it's much better. In a recent comparison of 19 olive oils on the market, The Olive Center, a research group at the University of California-Davis, found that Kirkland Organic was one of only five in the study not mixed with cheaper refined olive oil that can spoil the taste. The other four at the top of the list were all high-end brands that cost as much as five times Costco's. Make sure you buy the Costco version that's labeled organic, though, as opposed to the one that's simply called "extra virgin olive oil." It'll cost a little bit more, but it's worth it.

Another that didn't make the list that I personally think should have - meat. We aren't big meat eaters in our house but I have friends that have done their research and exclusively shop at Costco for meat. They have some of the highest quality 'choice' beef rather than 'select' beef which is a step up in quality at very reasonable prices. Take home the 5lb hamburger and put it into 1lb freezer bags, same for pork chops, steak (prime available @ $11 pound!) fish, baby back ribs and chicken.

And another - Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes. You can't deny that 900 wipes (9 packs) for $26.99 is an amazing deal. Might sound like a lot but 1) they don't go bad and 2) who wants to buy just one pack of wipes when it's guaranteed that you're gonna run out right when you've got a major blow out to clean up. Best to have wipes on hand everywhere you turn. In your car. Purse. If you're a mom, you get it. Kirkland Signature wipes are alcohol-free, hypoallergenic and have natural softness from Tencel. Tencel is made from the Cellulose inside trees which is naturally absorbent and renewable.

Ahhhh I just love Costco. The list could go on. There are several other products that didn't make the CBS Money Watch list that in my mind are SHOULD buy items; toilet paper, paper towels, tunafish, window cleaner. Bottom line - Costco rocks.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Things you should and shouldn't buy at TARGET

Pigging-backing on last week's savvy shopper posts, I am going to continue for a few more days with the hope that I can save you a few more bucks here and there this holiday season. Today's and tomorrow's post will highlight two of my favorite, 'I can't live without' stores; Target & Costco.

I remember when Target started out - it was borderline K-Mart'esk (kinda dirty, products seemed cheap, selection was hideous) and personally it didn't do much for me. Ask me now how I feel about Target. Hands down, a life changer. Ok maybe I won't go to that extreme but I would be lost without it. Target, in the last 5 years, has cultivated an image as a great place to buy “cheap chic” clothes and housewares designed by the likes of Zac Posen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Michael Graves. It has grown to be the nation’s second-largest discount chain which offers everything from the mundane staples to fresh groceries. And if you aren't buying your groceries there now, START. It's fabulous. While Target will seldom beat Walmart on price alone, its prices are still competitive; and starting this fall, holders of its store credit card will get a 5% discount on all purchases.

According to CBS Money Watch, here are four categories - other than clothes - where it makes particular sense to shop at the store whose fans use a French accent to emphasize their affection for “Tar-zhay." (Read on to find out the 4 items that you should not purchase at Target.)

Things you SHOULD buy:

1. The Kindle: If you’re tempted to buy the popular e-book reader from Amazon, but want to try it out first and perhaps compare it to Barnes & Noble’s 'Nook,' Target is the place to go. It’s the only national brick-and-mortar retailer to carry it. The brand new Kindle 3, which is smaller and lighter than previous models, will sell for $189 at Target, the same price as at Find someone up in the store who knows how to work the device, so you can get a feel for it. I've heard that if you've never seen someone use it, it can be a little bit tricky to figure out on your own.

2. Green Cleaning Products: When it comes to the burgeoning category of environmentally friendly cleaning and washing products, Target is tough to beat. Target was the first national retailer to carry the 'Method' line of cleaners, which have built a cult following for their cutesie packaging and all-natural ingredients, and it currently stocks more 'Method' products (about 70) than any other big-box store. In addition, if you like niche brands of natural cleaning products such as J.R. Watkins Apothecary, Mrs. Meyer’s, and Seventh Generation, you can get them at Target too — as well as hard-to-find, green versions of mainstream products such as Tide Coldwater Free, which works with high-efficiency washing machines and is made without dyes and perfumes.

3. Groceries: Yep, knew it. As part of its effort to bounce back from the recession, Target is rolling out an expanded grocery section, going head to head with Walmart and Kmart, which have already beefed up their fresh-food sections. Target’s new PFresh section, which sells a decent assortment of perishables such as meat, fruit, fresh produce, and baked goods, finally makes it possible to pick up the fixings for a complete meal while you are at Target shopping for other things. Let me say - LIFESAVER. “It has about 70% of the things you would find in a full grocery store, and prices are going to be 10-20% less than at a typical grocery,” says Colin McGranahan, an analyst with Bernstein Research. In addition, kids’ snacks such as granola bars and juices can be significantly cheaper at Target than at other big retailers and drugstores, and you can often save more money by registering on Target’s site to have coupons delivered to your smart phone, according to Stephanie Nelson, founder of

4. Cosmetics: Target’s selection of cosmetics and bath and body products has traditionally lagged behind CVS and Walgreen but recently the retailer has extended its cheap chic strategy to carry more designer cosmetics with quality and selections comparable to more expensive department store brands. Recent offerings include lines from Napoleon Perdis, Petra Strand, and Jemma Kidd. Names that don't mean much to me but might strike a cord with you. Target is also a good source for hard-to-find makeup brands, such as the U.K.’s 'Boots' beauty products and Iman Cosmetics.

Although Target offers many good products at competitive prices, it also sells products you should avoid, either because you’ll get a better selection or price at another store, or because there are more environmentally sound options.

Things you SHOULD NOT buy:

1. Furniture: Target’s design edge in categories like clothing and housewares, where Target has exclusive deals with fashion stars such as Zac Posen, clearly doesn’t extend to home furniture. “You can get comparable quality and cheaper stuff from Ikea, and Ikea’s merchandise is a bit more stylish,” says Kathryn Finney of The Budget Fashionista. Finney says that, in particular, Ikea’s bookshelves, chairs, and kitchen tables tend to offer better value than those at Target.

2. Movies and Music: According to James McQuivey, a media technology analyst at Forrester Research, Target can’t really beat Amazon or Walmart when it comes to prices on movies, music, and books. Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream CD, for example, sells for $13.99 at Target, vs. $9.99 at Amazon and $9.00 at Walmart, while the Blu-ray version of Date Night costs $29.99 at Target, vs. $24.96 at Walmart and $28.99 at

3. Exercise Equipment: Target’s clothes may be fashionable, but if you want to look great in them, buy your exercise equipment somewhere else. Target’s offerings in this category tend toward the $199 “As Seen on TV” Ab Circle Pro and the $100 Tony Little “Gazelle Edge” fitness system. Lame. You’re generally better off going to a place like The Sports Authority for higher-end exercise equipment. Or join a gym.

4. Shower Curtains, Some Toys, and Other Products with PVC: Following a national campaign by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) and other environmental groups, Target agreed in 2007 to reduce the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic in its products and packaging. PVC often contains lead and pthalates, which have been linked to reproductive problems in humans and release carcinogens when incinerated. At the time, Target lagged behind Walmart and Sears in removing products containing PVC, says Mike Schade, CHEJ’s PVC campaign coordinator. Although Target is now doing just as well as these rivals in removing PVC -containing products, it hasn’t gotten rid of all of them, according to Schade. Of particular concern are toys not sold under Target’s private-label brand; Schade says it can be a challenge for retailers to control the materials that its suppliers use. (Toys sold under Target’s brand should generally be PVC-free, according to Schade.) And read the labels on plastic shower curtains too. Target has removed most, but not all, that contain PVC from its shelves. (Products that contain the recycling symbol with the number ‘3’ in the middle mean they contain PVC.)
For its part, Target says it has eliminated or switched to safer forms of PVC in product categories covered by child safety legislation.

So there you have it. Stay tuned tomorrow for what you should and shouldn't buy at Costco. I apologize in advance if the anticipation keeps you up all night. ;)

Friday, December 3, 2010

10 things you should NEVER buy USED

If anyone loves a good deal, it's me. I will scoure Craigslist before I even think to buy new. But knowing what's a good deal vs. a not so good deal is an art. Although scoring a great deal on Craigslist and Ebay is satisfying and exciting, many second-hand purchases are actually terrible deals. A lot of the time the financial or safety risk outweighs the savings.

In my companion piece, "10 things you shouldn't buy new," I listed lingerie and make-up as two items for which you'd best pay retail. Below is a list of 10 more items where the cost savings don't justify the risks of buying used:

1) Laptops: You're taking a chance when you buy any used computer, but the math really doesn't work when you're talking about a unit that's as prone to abuse and problems as a laptop. They're more likely to be dropped, banged around and spilled on, simply because they're out in the world while a desktop computer sits (mostly) safe at home. That's why laptops are one of the few products where springing for an extended warranty with free tech support makes sense, in addition to the standard warranty that typically comes when you buy new. Buy used, and you'll have neither option - along with no idea what maltreatment your laptop has suffered or when the hard drive, optical drive or other important parts will die on you.
Exception: You're buying a refurbished unit that comes with a warranty. Mobile technology consultant Catherine Roseberry, who writes a column for, said she's purchased two laptops from companies that refurbished leased corporate computers, and had no problems with either. Both came with 90-day warranties. If you want even more security, buy a laptop that's been refurbished and certified by the manufacturer.

2) Car seats: A car seat that's been in one accident may not protect your child in another. And damaged car seats aren't uncommon; a survey commissioned by Sainsbury's Bank in England discovered one in 10 car seats currently in use in that country had been involved in an accident.
Brand-new car seats can often be purchased for as little as $50, and safety technology tends to improve with each year, said Denise and Alan Fields, parents and authors of "Baby Bargains." That makes getting a new one pretty much a no-brainer.
Exception: You're getting the car seat from a friend or relative whom you'd trust with your child's life, because that's what you're doing. Still, check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make sure the model you're getting hasn't been recalled. Regardless of whether you buy new or used, have an expert check your work to make sure the seat is installed correctly.

3) Plasma and high-definition TVs: Here's another of those rare cases where you want not only the warranty that comes with the television, but an extended warranty. You'll want the coverage because if your screen dies, it can cost hundreds or thousands to fix or replace - sometimes almost as much as it would cost to buy a new TV. While defect rates have declined from 7% in digital TV's early years to about 1% with some of the better models, problems with this technology are still common enough - and repairs expensive enough - that an extended warranty makes sense, said Phil Connor of
Exception: If you're getting such a screaming deal that you don't really care if the TV blinks out shortly after you get it home.

4) DVD players: In the previous article, I recommended buying used DVDs, since their quality tends to remain high (unless they have scratches, which are usually pretty easy to spot). The same is not true of DVD players, however. These have lasers that will eventually wear out and cost more to replace than the unit is worth. Whenever repairs cost that much, buying new is often advisable. Add to that the fact that prices are constantly dropping while the technology is constantly improving, and buying new becomes a slam dunk.

5) Vacuum cleaners: Here's another item that is among the heavy-duty household appliances that tend to get a lot of use and abuse. They can also cost more to fix than if you bought them new right from the start. Consumer Reports says a good, basic upright can be purchased new for less than $100, and that the fancy features that push prices higher often aren't worth the extra cost.
Exception: You're handy and don't mind teaching yourself vacuum repair. No thanks.

6) Digital cameras and video cameras: Like laptops, used digital and video cameras are likely to have been dropped and banged around. It may not be obvious, but once the damage kicks in, it’ll be expensive to repair. If you know what to look for in a digital camera, you can get a great new camera without breaking the bank.
Exception: You're buying a refurbished model that comes with a warranty., for example, posts many models that still carry a factory warranty.

7) Shoes: Poor-fitting shoes can cause everything from bunions to back problems, so don't buy footwear that's already been molded by someone else's tootsies. This is particularly important for kids whose feet are still growing. Shop sales, buy last year's models, but don't give in to the temptation to save a buck now that's going to cost you more in pain and hassles later.
Exception: You're buying old cowboy boots for a costume. Or any occasion where you'll only be wearing them one time.

8) Mattresses & Bedding: Think of all the stuff you do on your mattress. Now think of sleeping in someone else's stuff. Ewwwww. Just think: You may be sleeping with other people’s mold, mites, bacteria, and bodily fluids. Besides, even the really good mattresses are only supposed to last eight to 10 years, and it’s hard know for sure how old a used mattress may be.
Exception: When "used" is really almost "un-used," such as a mattress from someone's rarely visited guest room. Still, you'd really have to trust the buyer to know, and disclose, everything that's happened on that bed, which is why you're still probably better off buying new. You shouldn't ever pay the list price, because haggling is expected. Consumer Reports suggests you need to spend about $800 to get a good-quality queen-size mattress and box spring set. That works out to about 25 cents a night - a small price to pay for cleanliness and comfort.

9) Wet suits: These spongy coverings tend to lose their ability to keep you warm over time. If you're a scuba diver, the constant change in water pressure will eventually take its toll. Also, ozone attacks neoprene suits so they become less stretchy and more likely to tear with age."
If diving, snorkeling or other aquatic activities are your passion, a good wet suit will set you back $100 to $400.
Exception: You're surfing, rather than diving, exclusively in warm waters. If you're trying to outfit a growing child and don't want to pop for a new suit, consider renting from a reputable shop that sanitizes the suits between uses.

10) Helmets: Like a car seat, a helmet is meant to protect against one accident and no more. A crash typically crushes the foam inside the helmet casing, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, so the damage may not be visible. Since you usually can't tell if a helmet's ticket has already been punched, you're smarter to buy new. Kid's sports and bike helmets retail for about $20; you'll pay $30 to $40 for the adult size. Motorcycle helmets usually start around $100 and climb steeply from there; you can contain the cost by resisting the fancy paint jobs.
Exception: None. Helmets aren't that expensive compared to a funeral or a lifetime as a quadriplegic. Spend the money.